Lifestyle & Belief

Nose Hill Gentlemen: gun-toting lowlifes or Canadian cowboys?


Revelers square dance during the Calgary Stampede on July 11, 2011, in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The 10-day event, drawing over 1 million visitors, is Canada's largest annual rodeo and is billed as the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.


Mario Tama

They were gun-toting crack heads looking for defenseless American targets or big-hatted oil company employees handing out free rodeo tickets, it depends on your point of view.

And your nationality, apparently.

Kalamazoo, Michigan police officer Walt Wawra touched off a cross-border bitch fest when he sent a letter to the editor at the Calgary Herald on Aug. 7.

The 20-year police veteran wrote that during a July vacation to Calgary, he was walking through Nose Hill Park with his wife when two men approached and, in an aggressive tone, said, “Been to the Stampede yet?”

Wawra ignored them, and they repeated the question. That made Wawra wish he was packing heat.

“I quickly moved between these two and my wife, replying, ‘Gentle-men, I have no need to talk with you, goodbye,’” Wawra’s letter said. “Would we not expect a uniformed officer to pull his or her weapon to intercede in a life-or-death encounter to protect self, or another? Why then should the expectation be lower for a citizen of Canada or a visitor? Wait, I know – it’s because in Canada, only the criminals and the police carry handguns.”

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The letter ignited an online war or words, with many lashing out at Wawra’s paranoia.

Others suggested Nose Hill Park is no stranger to criminal activity.

The Twitter hashtag #Nosehillgentlemen burned up Canadian computers.


Reports have surfaced the two men who approached Wawra were actually promoters for an oil company handing out free passes to Stampede, an annual rodeo and fair.

Unfortunately, the Nose Hill Gentlemen haven’t come forward, so there’s no confirmation outside responses to a story about Wawra.

Two people in the comments section said they received free tickets in Nose Hill Park.

A Stampede representative said they don’t hand out free tickets, and none of Calgary’s numerous oilfield and exploration companies have taken credit for the free ducats.

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